Panda 4: Why You NEED to Review Your Content Strategy

By now you’ve probably seen a lot of chatter around the web about the new Google update; Panda 4.0, which was released on May 20th. But what does it mean to you? Do you need to change anything that you’re currently doing to avoid losing organic traffic to future Panda 4.1 or 5.0 updates?

Firstly, for those who aren’t completely across it; here’s the so what.

‘Panda’ is a series of Google’s algorithm updates that seeks to lower the visibility of ‘low quality’ content in organic search results. Panda 4.0 is the most recent update that follows the same principles.

The fallout of this is that many sites saw a reduction in their organic traffic from Google if they were deemed to, as per Google’s algorithm, have ‘low quality’ content. On the flipside, many sites also experienced an uplift in traffic from organic search due to their content being more aligned with Google’s perception of ‘quality’.

But what is ‘low quality’? Google’s loose definition is content that is duplicated (seen also on other websites), shallow in depth (minimal to no words on a page) and poorly structured (spelling and grammar).

So, what should you write and how much of it should you write? The usual response to this is that you must ‘create quality content’. That’s very easy to say, difficult to do well and extremely subjective.

Here’s something a little more tangible.

As hard as it is for me to say it; forget about Google for a moment. Google is merely one way for people to find your content. What if Google disappeared tomorrow? Would you need to change the way you are writing content? If the answer is ‘yes’ then you probably need to review your content strategy. Bear with me.

At FirstClick we like to talk about using ‘search’ as a proxy for your target market.

Keyword research plays a fundamental role in being agile and authentic. It allows you to identify the topics that are of most interest to your market (from search volume), the language used to find these topics (from synonyms) and when the market is interested in these topics (from search trends).

For me, this is search’s key role in guiding your content strategy. Don’t just focus on how many times a keyword appears in the text, what you should name the image file or what’s in the keywords tag.

Instead, take the keyword research, understand the challenges and questions that your market has in these areas and address them via the content on your site. Not a microsite, not your social media platforms – it needs to come from your brand site – your domain – as this is what is being measured.

Provide beneficial advice in your own tone and be the best answer on the Internet. Earn the attention. Make your content accessible to anyone, anywhere on mobile, tablet and desktop as text, video and images. Make it easy to find, and make it interesting and compelling.

Take the time to provide the best advice you can on subjects that your audience cares about and they will listen. Not only will they listen, they’ll engage with you and each other, talk about you and, over time, associate you as the Authority on the subject. Think about any advice you need and where you seek to get it. Has that person provided you valuable advice in the past? Would you go back to them for more advice on that subject? Do you see them as an Authority in that space? Most likely.

Once you have gained an Authority within your industry you’ll become the ‘go-to’ place for information and your market begins to gravitate towards you as a source rather than you needing to find them. Couple content production with an audience engagement strategy via social media and you’ve got a powerful machine that not only provides the advice that your audience needs but lets them know when it’s available and continues the discussion past the publish button.

You earn attention rather than buying it and ultimately you become the place to go when your market needs your product or service. The distance you need to reach out is much smaller, more efficient and ultimately more profitable.

But hang on, haven’t we gone on a huge tangent here about content strategy when we’re supposed to be talking about what Panda means to you?

Well, you see, it just so happens that if your content is to be the best answer on the Internet, then it can’t, by nature, be an exact copy of what somebody else has said or be shallow in depth. It aligns to what your market sees as ‘quality’ and that, ultimately, is what Google is trying to replicate in order to ensure they provide the best answer to the question.

See what I mean about forgetting about Google?

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